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Crew SC’s Ola Kamara linked and (quickly unlinked) to Aston Villa

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Striker would have gone on a winter loan

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at D.C. United Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

There was very little positive on the field for Columbus Crew SC in 2016. The biggest bright spot was likely the emergence of Ola Kamara after Kei Kamara’s trade to New England. Ola scored 16 goals in 20 starts and 25 total appearances. His total was tied for fifth in Major League Soccer.

That’s the kind of production that turns heads. Kamara has only been with Crew SC since January, but that hasn’t stopped reports of loans back to Europe, in this case to second tier Aston Villa.

The rumor was quickly squashed by Anthony Precourt himself on twitter, but

Even if Kamara isn’t headed out, these winter loan moves deserve a little more investigation.

It’s not far fetched that teams are interested in a forward that scored a goal every 116 minutes and had expected goal totals to match. Players that can get in goal scoring situations are extremely valuable, even on the short term.

Kamara has also proven that he can come in to a team and hit the ground running as his run of good form through the summer proved. Even if Kamara would be in England from January and February, that’s 10 league games and any cup games that Villa might be in.

The value to Kamara is also apparent. If he wants to, he can look to improve his profile and standing within the Norwegian National Team setup and a possible move with an improved paycheck. A good run in the English second division will resonate beyond his 16 goals in MLS.

It’s unclear how this helps Crew SC though. There’s the clear benefit of Aston Villa paying a fee and salary of a player like Kamara while he’s on loan. That provides some salary flexibility which can be valuable, but Columbus really isn’t in a position to need the relief. With allocation money from earlier trades and league position in addition to the low wage bill, Crew SC should have plenty of room in their salary budget.

The other downside is the wear and tear on the player. Kamara, or another loanee, would add two months to a long season. MLS is a physical league with a lot of travel. While players may only be playing once a week, those games are in high heat and if it’s away from home it’s often after a commercial flights across multiple time zones.

Precourt was clear that Kamara isn’t going to Aston Villa, but it wouldn’t surprise me there is interest in Europe. It also wouldn’t be a surprise for Crew SC to turn down those offers.